Liminality is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes, as defined in neurological psychology (a “liminal state”) and in the anthropological theories of ritual by such writers as Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner.
As developed by van Gennep (and later Turner), the term is used to “refer to in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes”. Although initially developed as a means to analyze the middle stage in ritual passages, it is “now considered by some to be a master concept in the social and political sciences writ large”. In this sense, it is very useful when studying “events or situations that involve the dissolution of order, but which are also formative of institutions and structures.”
Van Gennep placed a particular emphasis on rites of passage, and claimed that “such rituals marking, helping, or celebrating individual or collective passages through the cycle of life or of nature exist in every culture, and share a specific three-fold sequential structure”.
This three-fold structure, as established by van Gennep, is made up of the following components:
Learn more at Wikipedia.